When a slew of Drake‘s greatest hits that never were arrived on streaming services in the form of his Care Package compilation on Friday (Aug. 2), fans picked up on one noticeable change to 2013’s J. Cole-assisted “Jodeci Freestyle.” Outside of the updated song being 20 seconds shorter than the original, one controversial rhyme from Cole was edited out altogether.
The lyric in question finds Cole rapping on the final verse, “Go check the numbers, dummy, that’s just me gettin’ started/ I’m artistic, you n—as is autistic, retarded.” The second portion following “you” is censored completely, with just the beat oddly being heard alone for a few seconds. Following the track’s release, Cole and Drizzy were met with backlash from those who took offense to the bar, as a petition with nearly 4,500 signatures was launched online. A regretful Jermaine would end up issuing an apology for the lyric in July 2013.
“In a recent verse on the song ‘Jodeci Freestyle,’ I said something highly offensive to people with Autism,” Cole wrote on his Dreamville website at the time. “Last week, when I first saw a comment from someone outraged about the lyric, I realized right away that what I said was wrong. I was instantly embarrassed that I would be ignorant enough say something so hurtful. What makes the crime worse is that I should have known better.”
Drake also took responsibility and apologized on the OVO blog. “I share responsibility and offer my sincerest apologies for the pain this has caused. Individuals with autism have brilliant and creative minds, and their gifts should not be disparaged or discounted. This was a learning lesson for both of us, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to try to right this wrong. J. Cole and I believe that it is the right, responsible, and respectful decision to remove the lyric from the song,” the 6 God said.
The polarizing decision to censor the lyric has been met with controversy on both sides. “As a Cole stan I will say he took a major L on that one. They could’ve fixed it better than just muting that part tho, sounds hella dumb,” Twitter user @Rajaiah_ wrote.
Listen to the streaming-friendly version of “Jodeci Freestyle” below.